Tamale – Kumasi by STC

The State Transport Company bus terminal in Tamale is a large open building with bays for four Greyhound-type buses. There are even unintelligible loudspeaker announcements about departures to remind me of a great Bill Cosby routine.

Traditional leather goods

Traditional leather goods

I see a stand selling leather, wood, and other curios. I pull out my camera only to be reprimanded, nicely, by a small group of young men who say that I should ask first. They then grant permission before I ask. They are right to be sensitive about the way their continent is portrayed which is sometimes exploited. I think I got a nice photo of traditional northern Ghana crafts.

An older woman passenger is handing out tracts in English. She talks to me about Jesus telling me that I need to be saved by the blood of Jesus. I assure her that I agree.

Inside STC bus

Inside STC bus

We board in an orderly procedure with no jostling or pushing. Instead of the expected four seats with an aisle, there are only three. I am going business class! There is, however, something missing: there is no toilette.

When the bus started, the tract lady rises and prays out loud for a safe trip, committing us all into Jesus’ hands.

I am now watching a Gospel music video of a Ghanaian group doing Rock of Ages very tastefully (in my opinion) but to non-traditional accompaniment – keyboard, drums, bass guitar, and electric guitar. They blend from that into Peace Like a River with reggae overtones. Yes, the bus is equipped with two video monitors. The medley is going on for some time moving from hymn to hymn.

After an hour, knowing that the trip will be 5 or 6 hours, the lack of a toilette has me a bit preoccupied. We stop beside the road to let out two passengers and two others make a dash for a little outside toilette. I don’t need encouragement to follow.

Three cell phone towers in village

A different village along the same road with three cell phone towers

Having done a bunch of classic hymns, the same Gospel group goes on to I Have Found a Friend in Jesus. Then, There is Power in the Blood with reggae overtones, done to video clips of an Anglican-ish communion, wafers and all.

Oh! Did I mention that I am traveling on a bus of The State Transport Company which is wholly government-owned?

Next up is one of my personal favorite groups, Ladysmith Black Mambazo doing a mixture of Gospel and other in their great southern-African style.

We pass through a little burg of mostly mud and thatch buildings with five, count them, five cell phone towers. To prove it I take my phone on the Internet and post that last sentence as my Facebook status.

We have an abrupt and radical shift in our entertainment programming. I am now being subject to videos of the “sport” of professional wrestling. (My apologies to any fans.)

Used auto parts for sale beside Kumasi street

Used auto parts for sale beside Kumasi street

In Kumasi, which is known as vehicle repair and rebuild central, we go through a part of town where everyone is selling some variety of used car parts. It’s like a big used parts yard spread out along both sides of the road with dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of individual shops. One stand had nothing but used jacks, another just rear-view mirrors, several had rows of motors, and so on for blocks and blocks. It was a great trip. I plan to do it again

One in Nine

Siwu buying their NT, Michael Serchie, Akpafu trip composit photoA few years ago, an ingenious Bible translator started an ambitious project in the Volta Region of Ghana. With the help of Ghanaians interested in the idea, he set out to translate the New Testament into four languages at once! It worked. In 2008 all four New Testaments were completed and sent to the printers. They were dedicated in 2009. (photo top right)

On July 16, there will be a re-dedication of one of those New Testaments – the one for the Siwu language. When I saw that announcement, I wondered what on earth was a “re-dedication”? So, when the Ghanaian who now heads up the work in that area, Michael Serchie (photo middle right), came to our Accra apartment to welcome us to Ghana, I asked him. His answer made the translating of four New Testaments simultaneously look a bit tepid by comparison.

Only 27,000 people speak Siwu. So only 1,500 New Testaments were published. That turned out to be an underestimate of the thirst the Siwu have the for Scriptures in their language. All 1,500 sold within a month of the dedication in 2009!

Let me put that in context. Fifty percent of the population in Ghana, as in much of Africa, is under the age of 15. (In the US it is only 20%.) So, of the 27,000 Siwu, only 13,500 are adults. So one in nine Siwu adults bought a New Testament!(1)  If the sale of a new translation had the same proportions in the USA, it would sell 27 million copies in it first month. And remember, the Siwu New Testament would have sold even more if the stock had not run out.

So, tomorrow we will travel the road from Accra to Akpafu to be part of the Siwu people’s big celebration to launch the arrival of the second printing of their New Testament. The proportion will then no longer be one in nine. Expectations are that it will go up to at least one in four.

Is it worthwhile to translate the Scriptures into minority languages? Ask a Siwu.

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Note 1  Some children may have bought them as well, but most would not have the money. Although Ghana is growing economically, many Ghanaians of necessity still live very frugally.

Boarding passes

Dayle and I were flying from Nairobi to Entebbe. We boarded the Kenya Airways 737 and took our assigned seats. While passengers were still boarding, a gentleman approached us saying that I was in his seat. Sure enough, he produced a boarding pass on which the number of my seat disturbingly appeared. So we called an attendant to arbitrate.

Kenya airways 737

She studied the other man’s boarding pass a moment and then pointed out to him that it was indeed for that flight and my seat. But, there was good news! It was for a day the previous week!

He began rifling through his pockets. We were witnesses to a hurried and somewhat humorous search resulting in the appearance of numerous boarding passes. They came from pants’ pockets, shirt pockets, jacket pockets, a wallet and a carry-on. This was one really frequent flyer! After scrutiny, each one was discarded. Who knows how many more were left when the right boarding pass was located – and it was not for my seat. I really wanted to know what other relics were still in those pockets.

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Similar (odd and/or amusing) posts by Ed:

Phone number
Safe place
Odd happenings in church in Ghana
Twisted eyes
Cell phones and colors
The meaning of a phrase

We are now in Accra.  For our latest news, check out our news and prayer page.